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iPhone 17 could be the first phone to have Apple-designed 5G modems

The iPhone 17 or iPhone SE 4 could be the first iPhone with an Apple modem.
By
September 6, 2023
Apple logo Mac Mini M2 2023
Oliver Cragg / Android Authority
TL;DR
  • Apple is expected to switch to its own 5G modems by 2025.
  • The iPhone 17 or iPhone SE 4 could be the first to have an Apple-designed modem.
  • The switch will lower Apple’s dependence on Qualcomm.

Qualcomm is not exactly having the best year, reporting a 52% net income loss year over year in Q3, and today’s news won’t be any help. Apple could be ready to switch to its own in-house modems in the next two years, reducing its dependence on Qualcomm’s chips.

According to supply chain analyst and Apple expert Ming-Chi Kuo, Apple is planning to use its own 5G modem chips by 2025. Based on this timeframe, the iPhone 15 and 16 will likely still have Qualcomm chips, but the iPhone 17 could have Apple’s own technology.

It’s no secret that Apple had plans to eventually move on to its own proprietary modems. The Cupertino-based firm acquired a majority of Intel’s smartphone modem business back in 2019 for this very purpose. The question, however, is which iPhone will be the first to feature an Apple modem?

Kuo previously stated that the iPhone SE 4 would be the first to have an Apple-designed 5G modem. That could still be the case as there have been reports that the fourth-generation SE has been delayed until 2025.

But this all depends on Apple overcoming its development challenges. It was believed that Apple could make the switch in 2023, but the company apparently ran into a snag. “My latest survey indicates that Apple’s own iPhone 5G modem chip development may have failed, so Qualcomm will remain exclusive supplier for 5G chips of 2H23 new iPhones,” said Kuo in June.

As there are no details on Apple’s custom modems, it’s unclear what performance benefits would be gained from the move. It’s also unclear how Apple’s hardware would be better than what Qualcomm offers.